A sure way to knock back winter's chill: order a cocktail and pull up a seat next to a roaring hearth -- which, by the way, also makes for a romantic setting.
Here are five good spots to enjoy drinks and nibbles by the fire.
INFO 631-587-5081, horaceandsylvia.com
THE SCENE Under a candle-bulb chandelier, four easy chairs are arranged in a semicircle in front of the bar-restaurant's fireplace. Sidle up here and you can also soak in a view of the busy village sidewalk through the large front windows. It's a favorite spot for Patty Bari, 42, a saleswoman from North Babylon. "After a lousy day, I love to sit [by the fire] and relax, eat, enjoy the happy hour."
10 Pinelawn Rd., Melville
INFO 631-271-7780, blackstonesteakhouse.com
THE SCENE A modern take on a country club lodge, Blackstone's new winterized terrace is a noticeably toasty place to lounge in style. The centerpiece is a pair of massively long fire pits of sorts, with flames dancing at eye-level behind the glass. The rest of the space is done up in stacked stone, comfortable black furniture, LED candles and a pair of large flat-screen televisions. It's a more laid-back setting than the steakhouse's formal dining room. Good to know: Seating here is first-come, first-served -- no reservations necessary. "This space by the fire is to relax, and to be casual," says general manager Emir Radoncic. "You can dine here and a server will come and attend to all your needs."
ON THE MENU Upscale steakhouse fare, sushi and desserts. Specialty cocktails include the "Polar Express" (white chocolate liqueur, rum, raspberry syrup, served with drizzled caramel).
117 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO 631-385-1515, restaurantprime.com
THE SCENE With views of Huntington Bay, this lodge-like lounge area features soft chairs and a communal table focused around a massive stone inglenook trimmed with stacked firewood and flat-screen televisions. For a second dose of heat, patrons will head to the outdoor fire pit on the back deck "even if it's freezing," says manager Joe Mesquita.
ON THE MENU Expensive steaks, sushi and seafood are the mainstays, but for lighter, fireside fare, consider such appetizers as a radish and goat cheese beet salad ($12) or pan-seared gnocchi ($14).
3264 Railroad Ave., Wantagh
INFO 516-785-0809, thewantaghinn.com
THE SCENE In a word: classic. Heavy wooden furniture, patterned wallpaper and a timber-mantled brick fireplace combine for a feel that's decidedly homey bed-and-breakfast. Management says the two tables by the fireplace are the most coveted seats in the house -- so you'll want to reserve in advance.
ON THE MENU Traditional European-American dinner entrees range from German Jagerschnitzel ($21 sauteed veal cutlet with bacon, mushrooms, onions, brown gravy) to Russian chicken Kiev ($17) to shepherd's pie ($16).
830 W. Main St., Riverhead
INFO 631-369-2200, indigoeastend.com
THE SCENE Unexpected chic in Riverhead. Skip the restaurant's indoor fireplace in favor of a more intriguing destination -- the rear courtyard, where a massive carved hearth is fired up by request during regular business hours. Patrons can pull up cushy lounge chairs and settle back with a drink or small plates of appetizers.
ON THE MENU A cheese plate ($14) and flatbread pizzas ($11), plus burgers, seafood and heartier entrees.